Canadian Legal FAQs

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Which employees do the termination provisions of the Employment Standards Code apply to?

The termination provisions apply to all employees except employees who belong to a municipal police force or to employees who do jobs covered by laws that apply to specific occupations and professions, for example, lawyers and dentists.

What notice am I entitled to if my employer terminates my employment?

It depends on how long you have been employed by the employer. The requirements are

  • one week notice for employment of three months or more, but less than two years;
  • two weeks notice for employment of two years or more, but less than four years;
  • four weeks notice for employment of four years or more, but less than six years;
  • five weeks notice for employment of six years or more, but less than eight years;
  • six weeks notice for employment of eight years or more, but less than ten years;
  • eight weeks notice for employment of ten years or more.

Your employer can provide you with pay for the same period instead of a notice period at work, or a mixture of pay and notice.

Are all employees entitled to receive notice of termination?

No. Termination notice does not have to be given to

  • those who have been employed for three months or less;
  • those whose employment has been terminated for just cause;
  • those who are employed for a fixed term or a fixed task for less than a year;
  • employees who refuse offers of reasonable alternative work;
  • employees who are on strike or are locked out at the employees' place of work;
  • employees who are on temporary layoff and who do not return to work within seven days of being asked to do so in writing by the employer;
  • employees whose contract of employment has become impossible for the employer to fulfil because of unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances (for example, employee is in jail);
  • employees who work on a seasonal basis and whose work is terminated at the end of the season;
  • employees in the construction industry (not including office staff or those who work in fabrication shops preparing metal for construction);
  • employees who are employed in the cutting, removal, burning, or other disposal of trees and brush for clearing land;
  • casual employees who choose to work or not to work for a temporary period when asked by the employer.

I work part-time at a supermarket. Am I entitled to termination notice?

As long as you have worked for more than three months and you are not a casual employee, you are entitled to termination notice.

I have just been dismissed by my employer. What does he have to provide me with?

You must be given termination notice in writing or termination pay according to how many years you have worked for him. A combination of the two is also acceptable.

All general holiday pay, vacation pay, overtime, and wages that are owing to the date of termination must be paid within three days.

What does dismissal for "just cause" mean?

In some situations it is accepted that the conduct of an employee amounts to breaking the employment contract and justifies the employer in firing the employee without notice.

Every situation where an employer claims he or she has just cause to fire an employee will be different. Examples of conduct that might constitute just cause are

  • serious misconduct;
  • incompetence;
  • constant neglect of duty.

My employer has fired me for incompetence on the job. What does he have to provide me with?

After a dismissal for just cause, the employer must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay, and vacation pay that is due to you within ten days of the date of termination.

When you are dismissed with cause, you are not entitled to any termination pay.

Your employer must be able to support his position that there was just cause for the dismissal.

What is a temporary layoff?

An employer can lay an employee off for up to 59 days with no notice. The employer can recall the employee with one week's written notice during the 59 days. If the layoff goes beyond 59 days, the employment is considered to be terminated and the employer must give termination pay as required by the employee's length of service.

The period of 59 days layoff can be extended if the employer continues to pay wages and benefits to the employee or if there is a collective agreement with the union that allows for employees to be recalled after 59 days.

Can my boss end my employment while I am on temporary layoff?

Yes, but he or she has to give you termination pay in accordance with your length of service.

I want to give notice to my employer. How much notice do I have to give?

It depends on how long you have worked for the employer. You must give written notice of

  • one week if you have worked for him or her between three months and two years, or
  • two weeks if you have worked for him or her for over two years.

I want to give notice to my employer. When can I expect to get all the money owed to me?

If you give the notice required by your employment contract, your employer must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay, and vacation pay within three days following the termination of your employment.

If you do not give proper notice, your employer does not have to give you what is owed to you until ten days after the date on which your notice would have expired had it been given.

I have been laid off for a week and I want to give notice to my employer. Am I bound by the Employment Standards Code provisions relating to notice?

No. In some circumstances, employees do not have to give the notice required by the [../#External Resources|Employment Standards Code]]. Such circumstances include

  • when an employee is temporarily laid off;
  • when there is an established custom or practice in the industry with regard to the termination of employment that has different requirements;
  • when the employee is terminating the employment because his or her personal health or safety would be in danger if the employee carried on working for the employer;
  • when the job has become impossible for the employee to do because of unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances;
  • when the employee has worked for the employer for three months or less;
  • when the employee is laid off after refusing an offer from the employer of reasonable alternative work;
  • when there is a strike or lockout at the employee's place of work and the employee is not given any work;
  • when the employee is employed on a casual basis, that is, when he or she can choose to work or not to work when asked by the employer;
  • when an employee ends the employment because wages, overtime rate, vacation pay, or general holiday pay are reduced.

My boss gave me a termination notice because work was drying up. Then we got a new order and I have stayed to help complete it. Is my termination notice still in effect even though the date given for termination has passed?

No. Your employer will have to issue you with another termination notice or provide termination pay.

My contract states that I am entitled to three weeks notice. I was fired last week and my boss just gave me the two weeks notice that I am entitled to under the Employment Standards Code. Is this right?

No. If your contract gives you more rights than employment standards law, your boss must live by that agreement.

My boss was paying me less than minimum wage. I made a complaint to my local employment standards office. Now he has fired me. Can he do this?

No, your employer is not supposed to fire you for making a complaint about labour standards. This is called an unjust dismissal. Your employer may be committing an offence for which he could be fined. If the Director of Employment Standards investigates this matter and finds it to be a valid complaint, your employer may be ordered to reinstate you or pay you compensation or both.

What is “termination pay”?

Termination pay is a lump sum payment equal to the regular wages for a regular work week that an employee would have earned during the notice period had notice been given.

What is “constructive dismissal”?

A constructive dismissal may occur when an employer makes a significant change to a fundamental term or condition of an employee’s employment without the employee’s actual or implied consent.

An employee may be constructively dismissed if the employer makes changes to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment that result in a significant reduction in salary or a significant change in such things as:

  • work location,
  • hours of work, and
  • authority or position.

Constructive dismissal may also include situations where an employer harasses or abuses an employee, or an employer gives an employee an ultimatum to “quit or be fired” and the employee resigns in response.

Constructive dismissal is a complex and difficult subject. An employee who thinks he or she may have been constructively dismissed may get some guidance by consulting the Employment Standards Telephone Counselling Service at 1.877.427.3731 (dial 780.427.3731 in Edmonton and surrounding areas).

More Information

For more information, please see our External Resources

See Also

Other FAQs in this section
General The difference between employees and independent contractors Contract of Employment Employment Standards Pay Overtime
Hours of Work General Holidays & General Holiday Pay Vacations & Vacation Pay Maternity & Parental Leave Termination & Temporary Layoff Enforcement of Labour Standards

This page was last updated in May, 2000.


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